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Full text of "A story about a real man"

A POSTSCRIPT                                                                                                337
dimly seen two photographs in pretty, homemade frames
of plexiglass, of the kind that were made in great number
by wing handy men from the wreckage of enemy, planes
to while away the tedium of inaction in periods of lull.
On the table stood a billycan filled with fragrant wild
raspberries covered with a burdock leaf. The raspberries,
the young birch-trees, the hay and the fir twigs with which
the floor was carpeted, gave off such a sweet pungent
smell, the dugout was so cool, and the chirping of the
grasshoppers in the ravine was so soothing that we were
overcome by a pleasant languor, and we decided to put
off until morning both our talk and the raspberries.
The airman went outside. I heard him noisily cleaning
his teeth and dousing himself with cold water, making the
wood echo with his grunting and snorting. He came in
refreshed and cheerful, with drops of water on his hair
and eyebrows, turned down the wick in the lamp and
began to undress. Something heavy clattered on the floor.
I looked down and could not believe my eyes. His feet
were lying on the floor! A footless flyer! And a pilot of a
fighter plane! A pilot who had made seven combat flights
that day and had shot down three enemy planes! It was
unbelievable.
But the fact was that his feet, artificial feet, of course,
with nicely fitting army shoes, were lying on the floor!
The upper parts were under the bunk and it looked as
though a man were hiding there with his feet protruding.
Evidently my face expressed the amazement I felt, for my
host looked at me and asked with a pleased, sly smile:
"Didn't you notice it before?"
"I would never dream-----"
"I'm glad to hear that! Thanks! But I am surprised
that nobody told you. There are as many busy-bodies in
this wing as there are aces. Funny they let a new man
come in, and a Pravda correspondent at that, and didn't
rush to tell him about the freak they have here."
"But it is an extraordinary thing, you'll admit. To fly
a fighter plane with no feet! That wants doing. Nothing
like it is known in the history of aviation."
The airman whistled merrily and said:
"History of aviation! It did not know lots of things,
but has now learned of them from our flyers in this war.